Senior Sophia Mitri Schloss stars in Disney+’s New Series 'Big Shot'
Seattle Academy senior Sophia Mitri Schloss is a series regular on Disney+’s new original show Big Shot starring John Stamos! The series premieres April 16!
Sophia—who has professionally acted since she was eight—jumps into the role of Emma Korn, daughter to not-so-empathetic Coach Korn, played by John Stamos! After a slight man-tantrum on the court, this NCAA coach is sent to Westbrook High, an exclusive all-girls school in San Diego, to wait out the media storm by coaching girls basketball. Let’s just say he learns as much off the court, as he does on, in this emotional family-oriented series. Sophia’s appearance in her role as daughter to the coach grows in frequency and influence as this 10-episode series, filmed in Los Angeles, plays on.
While many of us were dreading never-ending Zoom classes this year, Sophia was bopping between the film set and her hair/makeup trailer to attend classes via Zoom. We sat down (virtually) with Sophia to interview her on filming with John Stamos while simultaneously working towards graduation at SAAS. We also got the real scoop on how Westbrook High compares to Seattle Academy. Here is what Sophia had to say.
Q: Big Shot obviously takes place in a private high school setting. Was it fun playing a role so similar to your real life? Which school do you like better?
A: It was certainly fun playing a high schooler (although surreal to live in real and fake high schools simultaneously!) To be honest, Westbrook and SAAS are so different it’s nearly impossible to compare them. On the surface, of course, Westbrook has uniforms (and—side note—such high praise to any costume department that has to deal with uniforms). But the biggest difference definitely has to do with the strict nature of Westbrook teachers—that kind of harsh environment is what made Westbrook feel so foreign, because it’s not present at SAAS in any way.
Q: Do you play basketball at SAAS? Does your character play basketball on the show?
A: I am not a basketball player, at SAAS or on Big Shot. One thing I like about my character Emma is that her plot line is pretty separate from the Westbrook team—her story and growth center around her relationship with her father, Marvyn.
Q: The show promotes focusing on the personal lives of the players? How is this similar to SAAS’ outlook and our focus on community?
A: Big Shot is, of course, about a basketball team, but the audience really gets a look into every character's personal growth and experience as the show progresses. Everyone is always changing, always trying to find better versions of themselves. In this way, the show focuses both on community and also really cares about the individuals that make up that community (much like SAAS!)
Q: Did you draw inspiration from SAAS, its teachers, or your fellow students?
A: Funny enough, it’s pretty rare for a high schooler to get cast to play a high schooler—usually, much older actors are cast to play younger roles. Because I was in school remotely full-time while filming, I was in a pretty unique position—I would go from the hair/makeup trailer to my Zoom class, get called to set, film a scene, run back to Zoom, and repeat that throughout the day. It was exhausting, but it was kind of amazing to go from the reality of high school to a made-up high school in a matter of minutes. I draw from my own experiences and relationships, and have spent so much meaningful time at SAAS that I can say with confidence it has shaped the way I interact with the world and with my work.
Q: Who is cooler: Head of School in the series or Rob Phillips, Head of School at Seattle Academy!?
A: This is my favorite question ever. I think Sherilyn and Rob should get together and run the school to end all schools.
Q: Does getting to know Westbrook make you appreciate SAAS more?
A: Ha! Absolutely. The more I look at and experience different schools (both real and fictional), the more I appreciate SAAS. The friendships I’ve found here are lifelong, and I genuinely mean that. The teachers at SAAS become your friends, a concept most high schoolers don’t really get a chance to understand. It is safe to say that I never experienced at SAAS the kind of drama that unfolds at Westbrook!
Q: Have you learned anything from acting on the show that you would like to share with fellow students?
A: Being patient is critical. Being patient with grace is even better.
Q: How many months were you filming these 10 episodes of Big Shot?
A: The production of the first season of Big Shot has been a bit of an era. We started filming in the fall of 2019, and then of course everything shut down for Covid before we started back up again in the fall of 2020. To ground that in reality, I was 16 when we started filming the season and 18 when we finished. You’ll see my hair grow about a foot over the course of the 10 episodes!
Q: Did filming interfere with your schoolwork or classes at SAAS?
A: I will not lie, juggling school and acting work is hard. However, the only reason it’s hard and not impossible is that SAAS has been unbelievably supportive! I feel so lucky to be part of a school community that completely embraces this other part of my life. Both academics and the arts have always been central in my life—I don’t feel completely whole without either. They are two totally different worlds, and I’ve learned how to jump between them. Both center me in different ways, bring out different parts of myself.
Q: You filmed in Los Angeles, correct? How did you navigate this with teachers and school?
A: When I told my teachers and SAAS admin about Big Shot, the first instinct was, “Ok, this is going to happen, let’s make it work.” I was never told it would be easy, but I was always told it would somehow be possible. That kind of flexibility and encouragement is, I believe, completely unique to SAAS. I was very fortunate that that was the case in elementary and middle school, as well—I went to The Evergreen School—so I’ve never had to take time off of school or choose between school and acting. I’m so glad that I haven’t, because that would have been such a sad decision to make— it would be like choosing between two parts of myself.
Q: This is your first series on Disney Plus, is it also your biggest audience to date?
A: I’ve done quite a bit of film and television work, but this project will definitely have the biggest audience.
Q: You play the teenage daughter of Coach Korn! What is it like filming with John Stamos? Do you get to call John Stamos family now?
A: Working with John is like a dream. First, we have the same music tastes, so that’s great. We had some really fun drives on set singing along to Joni Mitchell! Truly, any day on set with John is the best adventure. He is both unbelievably good at what he does and unbelievably kind, and that makes him the ultimate scene partner. As John and I got to know each other, the Emma/Marvyn relationship just kind of came to life. It’s so easy to have fun and make their dynamic feel real, because John is always having fun and making things feel real—every take will have something different, or something a little improvised, or just something interesting in a new way. I learned so much from working with him. John and I have kept in touch since we wrapped, and I’m sure we’ll continue to stay friends which makes me very happy!
Q: Tell me about your character Emma? Is she like you? Is she similar to any of your real-life friends or schoolmates?
A: Emma is like me in that she prioritizes the relationships in her life—both family and friendships. She fights to maintain those relationships in everything she does, but she also works to figure herself out and find her own passions. I think Emma is a little bolder than me—she’s quicker to confrontation—but I admire her consistent strength throughout the series. An interesting parallel between her life and mine has to do with changing locations and finding new people—Emma’s plot line eventually revolves around her finding her bearing in a new place, with new schoolmates. Since I don’t live in LA, I was (in real life) relocating to a new place for work—and meeting the rest of the cast for the first time, after they’d had months of basketball training together. Everyone was extremely welcoming, but the real-life connection wasn’t lost on me and it felt pretty full circle to film that part of Emma’s story.
Be sure to tune in to the series premiere tonight, April 16, on Disney+!
The Seattle Times: Seattle teen actor stars in Disney+'s 'Big Shot' alongside John Stamos